Wellston Golden Rockets quarterback R.J. Kemp throws down field during a week 10 game against Vinton County on November 11, 2019.
Wellston Golden Rockets quarterback R.J. Kemp throws down field during a week 10 game against Vinton County on November 11, 2019. (Sarah Ellen James/WOUB)

Vinton County Take Regular Season Finale in McArthur

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MCARTHUR, Ohio- Vinton County (5-5) were looking to secure a .500 record in their final game of the season with a win over Wellston (7-3). Drastic mistakes and poor blocking plagued the Golden Rockets tonight as they failed to produce anything offensively. Vinton County, however, seemed to be efficient in all aspects of the game.

Vinton County shut out Wellston in a 20-0 senior night rout.

Wellston’s defense started off strong, forcing a three-and-out on Vinton County’s first drive. The ensuing punt was blocked by the Golden Rockets, and recovered by Garrett Payton, giving the Golden Rockets prime field position at the Vikings 37 yard line. However, with star playmaker Rylan Molihan not starting and the extreme cold taking effect, they would have no luck moving the ball much either.

Wellston’s first play was a snap over junior quarterback R.J. Kemp’s head which landed 13 yards behind him, where they were lucky to recover. After three plays trying to chip away at a long 23 yards to go, Wellston turned the ball over on downs after freshman running back Evan Brown dropped a fourth-and-8 pass from Kemp. That was the best opportunity for momentum to shift in the Golden Rockets favor, and unfortunately for them it would be all Vinton County offensively from there.

Vinton County kicked off the scoring with a 32-yard run from Jacob Wells that came seemingly out of nowhere. They were putting a methodical drive together, moving the ball slowly when Wells decided to break out on a big one while Wellston were on their heels. They took a 6-0 lead following one of the most interesting extra point attempts of all time, where the ball went directly straight up in the air and landed about a foot or less away from the holder.

It is not clear whether Molihan sat the first offensive drive because of his injury he sustained last week against Meigs, or because Head Coach Mike Smith wanted to rest him before their important playoff game, but something changed after Vinton County took the lead. As Molihan jogged off the field on the following kickoff, Smith waved him back on, and Molihan turned around and took his place at tailback. However, the change would not affect the outcome of this game.

Molihan finished the game with just 49 rushing yards, a number that did not live up to the Gridiron Glory Player of the Year candidate’s lofty standards. It was a much different story for the Vikings running game, however. Wells finished with 88 yards and a touchdown, as well as second string running back Logan Baker picking up 32 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Zack Radabaugh also picked up a touchdown in the 20-0 shutout.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, tonight was their final game of the year as they missed the playoffs, but the same cannot be said for the Golden Rockets. They were able to squeak into the playoffs despite the loss tonight, and their opponent will prove a tough test. According to Drew Pasteur’s Fantastic 50, they will face the 9-1 Ironton Fighting Tigers. Any of these teams will be a tough game for the Golden Rockets, but with this being their first playoff appearance since 2006, anything is possible for this passionate team.